Looking for a job? Try to find one with a fast-growing employer. We have a list of them: 16 companies with a history of steadily rising payrolls and the prospect of strong top-line growth over the next four years.
The winning companies on this list range from giants like discounter Costco Wholesale and pleasure boat operator Royal Caribbean down to unfamiliar outfits like medevac specialist Air Methods and contract manufacturer Labarge. What they all have is a career opportunity where promotions are more likely than pink slips.
Imagine that you were an engineer 20 years ago contemplating job offers from Cisco Systems and General Motors. With one, your destiny might have been advancement and stock option riches. With the other, in all likelihood, something bad.
Moral: When you are shopping for a job, don't just look at the salary and the benefits. Do some financial digging, the way a stock analyst would. Increase the odds that you will wind up with a Cisco instead of a GM.
To create a list of winning employers I worked with Scott DeCarlo of our Statistics Department to screen publicly traded companies for these attributes:
|recent||growth %||growth %||rating|
|Leap Wireless Int'l||4,202||25||11||81|
|Air Methods Corp.||2,718||11||11||94|
|United Natural Foods||6,500||10||10||80|
|Royal Caribbean Cruises||59,500||9||11||87|
|American Eagle Outfitters||6,400||7||5||88|
|Costco Wholesale Corp.||82,000||5||8||82|
• a 5% or better annual growth rate in the employee count over the past five years, with no year-to-year dips bigger than 10%. We considered only companies with at least 1,000 employees.
• a consensus Wall Street forecast for 5% or better top-line growth over the next three to five years.
• a top-quartile rating from Audit Integrity, which scorecards companies on such measures as transparency, corporate governance and absence of insider trading. The point here: You should avoid companies that are pushing the envelope with their accounting, attracting shareholder lawsuits or engaging in a flurry of acquisitions and divestitures. These are risky places to work.
The resulting tabulation is a far cry from the Best Companies to Work For lists you will see elsewhere. Those rankings put a premium on the warm and fuzzy things in a workplace. My thinking: In a booming economy you can fuss over on-site day care and free pizza on Fridays, but in a tough job market you should think about survival.
These days companies with shrinking revenue don't hesitate to engage in mass layoffs. Forget the pizza. Calculate the probability of getting axed. It's lower in a fast-growing company.
Did you think manufacturing is dead? It's very alive at Labarge, a St. Louis, Mo. company that does contract electronics assembly for defense suppliers and for other manufacturers. It supplies machinery to Owens-Illinois bottle factories, for example.
If you have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and some experience in radio frequency testing, check out the opening at a Labarge site in Tulsa, Okla. The company has another 30 opportunities in sales, engineering and purchasing.
Do you have a facility with numbers and an interest in energy conservation? VSE, an Alexandria, Va. firm that does contract work for the federal government, is looking for an analyst with a physical sciences degree to handle an energy-related database. It has another 80 jobs posted.
Jobs are disappearing in some parts of the computer business. But they are growing in data management. Take a look at the mess of files you have on your home laptop and think about what goes on in corporate info departments. Now you know why CommVault is growing. This Oceanport, N.J. company creates software for archiving and backing up corporate data.
CommVault vice president William Beattie Jr. says the company will end its current fiscal year with 130 hires, a lot for a firm that now numbers 1,240. He wants to hear from you if you are a Unix or Windows developer with C or C++ experience. There are also openings for programmers good at Java-based user interfaces.
Employment growth is a compound annual rate over the last five years. Future growth is an IBES forecast of annual revenue growth over 3-5 years. On the AI integrity percentile scale, 100 is best; for this measure we average the two most recent AI ratings. Costco's employment count excludes 65,000 part-timers.
Best Companies For Job Offers
Under Armour founder Kevin Plank turned the mundane business of athletic apparel into a hot growth company. Openings at the Baltimore, Md., headquarters include some in e-commerce and footwear design.
Cruise operator Royal Caribbean has rebounded briskly from the recession. Apply if you know something about hotel management -- and don't get seasick.
American Eagle Outfitters
American Eagle Outfitters has some glamorous openings, such as in fashion design, but most of the hiring is in store and warehouse operation.
Costco Wholesale's needs cover a wide range: Aviation, graphic design and property management are among the less obvious fields cited in its list of career opportunities.
Courtesy of BJ's Restaurants
BJ's Restaurants is hiring cooks, bartenders, servers and dishwashers.
Military contractor VSE has openings for geeks like aircraft mechanics and ship electronics technicians.
Leap Wireless, which provides flat-rate wireless services in 35 states, began life as a spinoff of cellular engineering firm Qualcomm. Most of the openings are in retail sales.
Courtesy of United Natural Foods
United Natural Foods
United Natural Foods is a wholesaler. There are jobs for accountants, drivers, purchasers and warehouse operators, among many others.
Sources: Audit Integrity; Thomson Reuters Fundamentals via FactSet Research Systems.